Greencastle-Antrim School Board dissents


Nearly every vote taken March 17 passed with a split majority by the Greencastle-Antrim Board of School Directors.

Five members approved the motion to participate again in the Wolfington Body Company bus purchase buy-back program with a net cost of $298,600. Joel Fridgen, Melinda Cordell, Howard Ritchey, Paul Politis and Mike Shindle appproved; Brian Hissong, Kristy Faulkner and Eric Holtzman opposed. William Thorne was absent.

Business manager Richard Lipella said he had spoken to three other companies about contracted services. One needed a year of lead time to analyze the G-A system, one was not very interested but needed up to three months to decide, and the other would have charged more than the Wolfington deal.

Lippella recommended approval since the buses had yet to be manufactured, and needed to be delivered in July. Otherwise, the district would have to contract out the services. The district typically kept a Wolfington bus three years.

Earlier in the meeting, Vicki Chlebowski addressed the board on behalf of the 34 district bus drivers. She didn’t believe a dollar value could be put on the personal relationships the drivers developed with the students and their families. It also meant a higher level of safety for each rider if control remained local.

Lipella called the drivers “dedicated, committed, and a great group.”  They kept track of each child and brought them back to the school if there were concerns about a drop-off.

Ritchey appreciated the loyalty of the longterm employees and said he would not support outsourcing. He wanted the drivers “taken care of.” Lipella said with earlier action next year, he could get bids and maybe save up to $40,000.

Advertising the budget

Permission for administration to advertise the intent to adopt the 2011-2012 proposed final budget on April 21 passed 6-2. Faulkner and Holtzman voted no. Lipella emphasized the budget would change by the time of the final adoption in June. Educational director Bob Crider added that the proposed budget had to be approved that night or April 7 under state law. The administrative team had met 10 times to find cuts to the budget, with every department under scrutiny. Lipella also had found ways to trim spending, but the two had not yet presented all of their suggestions to the board.

The idea of sending the grading scale debate back to committee, to be acted upon by the board on April 7, found Politis and Ritchey opposed. Approving a staggered kindergarten start next fall, as presented at the last meeting, was objected to by Ritchey. The Franklin County Career and Technology Center 2011-2012 budget was opposed by Hissong.

Approval of personnel items, which included hiring support staff who had successfully completed their orientation period, hiring a JV assistant baseball coach, and approving employee time off without pay, was opposed by Shindle.

The 2011-2012 school calendar was not approved by Faulkner, who noted G-A was the only district in Franklin County that did not close schools on Martin Luther King Day, and Holtzman, who said then maybe the schools should also be open on Labor Day and Memorial Day.

The 2011-2012 school year will start on Aug. 29 and end June 5.  

Graduation will be Saturday, June 9. The snow makeup days will be used in the order of February 17, June 6, March 19, June 7, April 5, April 9 and June 8.